What is the prevalence of depression in menopause?

Updated: Jan 30, 2019
  • Author: Nita V Bhatt, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Ana Hategan, MD, FRCPC  more...
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Answer

Answer

In the United States, 1.3 million women reach menopause annually. Although most women transition to menopause without experiencing psychiatric problems, an estimated 20% have depression at some point during menopause. [7]

Studies of mood during menopause have generally revealed an increased risk of depression during perimenopause, with a decrease in risk during postmenopausal years. The Penn Ovarian Aging Study, a cohort study, found depressive symptoms to be increased during the menopausal transition and decreased after menopause. [8] The strongest predictor of depressed mood was a prior history of depression, along with fluctuations in reproductive hormone levels associated with depressed mood.

In a cross-sectional population survey from the Netherlands, 2103 women were asked to rate their symptoms of depression before menopause and 3.5 years later, during the menopausal transition; the women experienced most symptoms of depression during the menopausal transition. In the United States, a study of a community sample of women undergoing natural menopause also demonstrated an increase in depressive symptoms during perimenopause. [9]

Investigators from the Harvard Study of Moods and Cycles recruited premenopausal women aged 36–44 years with no history of major depression and followed up these women for 9 years to detect new onsets of major depression; they found that women who entered perimenopause were twice as likely to have clinically significant depressive symptoms as women who had not yet made the menopausal transition. [10]


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